Meghan Markle is taking action to protect her friends, whose identities have become compromised in her ongoing court case against Associated Newspapers Ltd (ANL).
On Thursday, the Duchess issued a statement in High Court that argues that five of her friends should not be publicly named in the case — which she says The Mail on Sunday is threatening to do for "clickbait and commercial gain."
The friends had originally spoken as anonymous sources to People magazine in 2019, when they defended Meghan against the type of "global bullying" that British tabloids were perpetrating against her.
Now, Meghan is suing ANL for the publication of parts of a private letter she wrote to her father Thomas Markle in 2018. The names of the friends are listed in the ongoing case's confidential filing, and Meghan wants them to remain confidential.
Meghan Markle has strong words for The Mail on Sunday
According to Hello!, the new statement reads:
"Associated Newspapers, the owner of The Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, is threatening to publish the names of five women—five private citizens—who made a choice on their own to speak anonymously with a U.S. media outlet more than a year ago, to defend me from the bullying behavior of Britain’s tabloid media.
"These five women are not on trial, and nor am I. The publisher of the Mail on Sunday is the one on trial. It is this publisher that acted unlawfully and is attempting to evade accountability; to create a circus and distract from the point of this case—that the Mail on Sunday unlawfully published my private letter.
The statement continues, "Each of these women is a private citizen, young mother, and each has a basic right to privacy. Both the Mail on Sunday and the court system have their names on a confidential schedule, but for the Mail on Sunday to expose them in the public domain for no reason other than clickbait and commercial gain is vicious and poses a threat to their emotional and mental wellbeing.
"The Mail on Sunday is playing a media game with real lives.
"I respectfully ask the court to treat this legal matter with the sensitivity it deserves, and to prevent the publisher of the Mail on Sunday from breaking precedent and abusing the legal process by identifying these anonymous individuals - a privilege that these newspapers in fact rely upon to protect their own unnamed sources," the statement concludes.
The Mail on Sunday responds to Duchess Meghan's court statement
Hello! also reported a statement from a Mail on Sunday spokesperson:
"To set the record straight, The Mail on Sunday had absolutely no intention of publishing the identities of the five friends this weekend," they said.
"But their evidence is at the heart of the case and we see no reason why their identities should be kept secret. That is why we told the Duchess's lawyers last week that the question of their confidentiality should be properly considered by the court."